Sunday, May 4, 2008

Baltimore Blocks

Since I can't find the quilt top that I want to hand quilt I need to decide on my next appliqué project. I have several new projects that I could start, but with so many still unfinished that is NOT a good idea. I could prepare more blocks for my Mid-Century album quilt, but a little nagging voice in my head says "Why do that when you have a bunch of appliqué blocks that need to be finished?"

Of course the little voice is talking about my oldest UFO - the Baltimore Album Quilt - which I blogged about here. Next year it will be twenty years old. Surely it has aged sufficiently that it now deserves to be finished. Or at least turned into a finished top before it's twentieth birthday. Unfortunately I'm having a hard time drumming up interest in finishing it. I have completely finished twelve blocks for the quilt. The problem is that I have a bunch of partly finished blocks that need completion, and none of them really speak to me any more. Most of them were done in classes that I took - several from the queen of Baltimore album quilts herself - Elly Sienkiewicz. Elly is a delightful, creative lady, and I took the classes not because I was necessarily thrilled with the blocks but because it was so much fun to be in her classes. A couple of the blocks were started in classes with a former Tangled Thread member, and when I see them all I think about is her not so delightful personality and how glad we all were when she dropped out.

So, the big question is this - do I finish some or all of these blocks? Many are much more elaborate than the blocks I've already finished. One choice would be to finish four of the more elaborate blocks, which could go into the middle of a sixteen block quilt. The other blocks could be finished and put into a smaller wall hanging. Or I could make four entirely new blocks - simple ones that fit with the ones I've already finished - for a sixteen block quilt. I could toss some or all of these partially finished ones - which part of me wants to do, but the other part of me is horrified at the idea. I can't imagine tossing them in the garbage, but I'd happily toss them to another quilter who might actually finish them. What is a quilter to do?
So, without further ado, here is each block in turn, along with my thoughts. All pictures should be "clickable" in order to better see the details. Any thoughts or input would be appreciated. And if you would like one or more of the blocks that I want to toss off my hands just let me know. I'll happily send it off to you with my blessings!

This is an oak leaf and acorn wreath done in simple cutaway appliqué - easy to finish but rather boring. My plan was to do an ink sketch of our home in the center of the wreath. I'm sure I'll finish this one - it's probably the best choice for handwork at Tangled Threads meetings.

This peacock is also one that I will most likely finish. It was started in class with J__ and not touched after that. I know what I don't like - the silver metallic thread for the embroidery. If I take that out and choose a nice color of DMC then I should be able to finish this one without a problem.

I did this much of a block in another class with J__. We learned three dimensional roses and woven baskets. I really don't care for this block at all. I don't like the shape of the basket and I think the lower petals on the rose are out of proportion. I thought I'd tossed this in the garbage years ago, and was surprised to find it in the drawer. I really don't want anything more to do with this block.

This cutaway lyre wreath is completed except for a three dimensional ruched rose at its base. Note the block is now stained - I must have spilled tea on it when I was working on it. No point in finishing it unless the stains will come out. I have already cut all the strips for making the ruched rose. They are all fancy fabrics - satin, taffeta, rayon, etc. - fabrics I just don't ever use in my quilt making. It would be a beautiful block finished, but not at all my style. My impulse is to toss this one also.

Another peacock in a rose tree, also started in a class with J__. The three dimensional roses are pinned on and ready to appliqué. The peacock tail is fussy cut from an old paisley print. It will be beautiful when finished, but I think would look inappropriate in the quilt because most all the blocks are much simpler. I could finish this one and then use it for the center of a small wall hanging or a very elaborate pillow.

This is another lyre wreath started in a half-day class with Elly. At the moment I can't find the pattern and I have no memory of what the block is supposed to look like. Since I've completed very little of it my impulse is to toss this one also.

This apple basket is definitely "beyond Baltimore" - Elly's words about some of her more recent designs. It is an interesting block because of the three dimensional braids on the basket. One apple and some of the leaves are all that is actually stitched down. The braids and basket are just pinned into place because I really have no idea how to stitch them down. Just tacking them would be very insubstantial, but I think stitching them down tightly would take away from the three dimensional effect. I have no idea what I should do with this block other than toss the braids and finish the rest.

This last block is another of Elly's "beyond Baltimore" designs. The pattern for this one isn't in the drawer either, though I think I know where it is. The basket is interesting as it has that three dimensional braid across the top. It's not yet sewn down - I'm thinking maybe there are flower stems that I planned to tuck under it first. The thing is that I can't remember what is supposed to be in this basket. Maybe it's not flowers at all, but fruit instead. The leaves at the bottom of the basket also need to be stitched - as you can see those are done with cut away appliqué. This is another block that I just might finish - if I can find the pattern!

If you have stuck with me this long you now understand my quandary. After almost twenty years I need to decide once and for all what I'm going to do with this project. And sticking it back into the drawer for another five to ten years should not be an option!


Morah said...

I stopped reading at "I have 12 finished blocks." Why because my thoughts are, A)it's 20 years old. B) You are no longer excited...if you were you would have more blocks. C) the 12 you have done are beautiful. What is mysuggetion? Put the 12 together, call it done and enjoy what you have rather than agonize over what you don't have. I know you have extra blocks and hate to get rid of them but....could you put the half finished ones on the back? Perhaps get rid of them? I probably should have read to the bottom but wanted to add my two cents. Sometimes, half of what we planned is not only good enough but just plain wonderful AND good for the mental health!!!

Karol-Ann said...

I think you've answered a lot of your own questions. I personally would finish the ones you like. Get rid of the ones you will truly be wasting your time and good karma on and if you want a bigger quilt, then make a few more that really rock your boat :O)

Judy said...

I agree the block that are unfinished do not go with any of the finished ones...except the red cutwork. But you have 12 blocks done...IF you want to finish the quilt, then put them together and call it done. Grab the rest of the not finished ,blocks and put them in the trash then cover them with coffee grounds or something to ruined them so you don't pull them back out!

If you don't have any interest in any of them, load them all up with the patterns and offer them to anyone who wants them all. No reason to feel like you have to finish a 20 year old project just because you feel obligated.

Mary said...

I agree with Morah, if there are 12 blocks done - I'd set them, border them and call this top done!

Juliann in WA said...

I love the 12 that are done and think they would make a lovely quilt. I don't like to just finish things because I started them so if they don't really get you jazzed, I would say put them away or give them away. It might be a fun UFO swap.

Beth said...

I am in with the group! Make it a finished reason you NEED to use those other blocks...pass them on...file them in the round file..find someone who wants to practice THEIR applique. And then breath a SIGH of relief and RUN to something that lights you up! (thats my story and I'm sticking to it!)

Tanya said...

I can see your quandry but keeping unfinished blocks sets me up for guilt every time I stumble across them If they are out of the house I onl feel guilty when I think of them and I rarely do. Please put the blocks you like together. I'd love to see it done!

Chocolate Cat said...

I think it would be such an accomplishment to finish this and like everyone else has suggested 12 blocks are enough to work with. I must say though I love some of the unfinished blocks, in fact am in awe of them and would love to see them finished too!